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BurmaNet News October 2, 1996

"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"

The BurmaNet News: October 2, 1996
Issue #529


October 1, 1996 (abridged)
By Deborah Charles

RANGOON, Oct 1 (Reuter) - Burma's military government said on Tuesday it had
released 88 of the 559 supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for
Democracy (NLD) party held since Thursday, but roadblocks around her house
remained in place.

"Eighty-eight of the persons called for questioning at the Guest House have
returned home by this evening," a brief statement issued by the Burmese
embassy in Bangkok said.

"Altogether 159 persons...were detained. All of them were accommodated at
guest houses. As I speak to you, some are now on their way back home," Kyaw
Thein told reporters. He said police detained an additional 400 NLD
supporters on Saturday night.

"We have got information from the people's police force that about 400
persons were taken in temporarily on the night of September 27. This has
been done in accord with the rules and procedures in a bid to prevent crime
likely to harm law and peace and tranquillity of the state," he said.
The government says the party meeting aimed to incite instability and
rioting. The NLD says it was to celebrate the eighth anniversary of the
founding of the party, born in 1988 after unprecedented protests against
years of military rule.

Kyaw Thein said weekly speeches given by Suu Kyi and other top party
officials were illegal, and the government might decide to take action
against them.

"The government has repeatedly acknowledged that holding these kind of
weekend meetings violated existing laws," he said. "I don't know what lies
ahead but anything that violates existing laws will have measure taken
against (it)."

The Saturday and Sunday speeches, which attract thousands of supporters, are
the NLD's only real forum for disseminating information.  


September 29, 1996

Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1100 gmt 29 Sep 96
Text of report by opposition radio Democratic Voice of Burma, broadcasting
from Oslo

As a measure to ban the National League for Democracy's [NLD] planned
three-day congress, the SLORC [State Law and Order Restoration Council]
military clique has arrested many NLD members. It has been learned that the
SLORC also arrested many NLD youths, including Ko Soe Naing and Ko Tun 
Naing from Mingala Taungnyunt Township; and Ko Myo Maung, Ko Aung Myint, 
Ma Tin Tin Maw and Ma Tin Win Maw from Kyauktada Township. They were at 
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's house when the security forces staged a surprise raid on 
the house at about 0100 [local time] on 27th September. An eyewitness from
Rangoon said they were arrested while they tried to escape by scaling the fence.

It has been learned that on 28th September, small groups of students and
civilians marched towards a meeting point at the Shwedagon Pagoda and
shouted "Long live Daw Aung San Suu Kyi" on the way. One of the marching
groups was arrested when it was confronted by the security forces on
Shwedagon Pagoda Road. Another group marching from the Shwedagon side 
was cornered, beaten, arrested and immediately taken to Insein Jail by the army
and security forces.

It is currently very common in Rangoon suburbs to see dogs carrying on their
necks the names of authors who are writing [anti-Suu Kyi] articles in
newspapers. It has been learned that police, fire services and municipal
personnel are catching and killing these dogs at night.


September 29, 1996

Source: Radio Myanmar, Rangoon, in Burmese 
Lt-Gen Myo Nyunt, minister of religious affairs, met monks who are members
of the State Sangha [Buddhist Order] Maha Nayaka Committee in Rangoon on
29th September, Burmese radio reported. The minister and the monks discussed
the need to keep religion and politics apart.

The report said: "It has been discovered that the NLD [National League for
Democracy] covertly directed its groups to engage in the anti-government
movement by entering monkhood so as to benefit their party. They are doing
this to divide the monks. Although they are Buddhists, they are unaware of
the sin of dividing the monks."

Myo Nyunt told the monks: "I would like to inform the Sangha that these
monks are covered in the darkness with avarice, anger and ignorance; and
they are creating disturbances to destroy the people and the country."
The report continued: "He [the minister] also urged the revered monks to
clarify and inform all levels of Sangha organizations about their [the
NLD's] plan to enter the monkhood. The State Law and Order Restoration
Council's Orders No 6/90 and No 7/90, and Law No 20/90 on Organization of
Sangha, were issued to protect them from this danger. The Sangha has also
been directed to coordinate with the respective division, state, district,
township and ward law and order restoration councils."


October 1, 1996

Buddhist Relief Mission
Supporting the Buddha Sasana Worldwide
266-27 Ozuku-cho, Kashihara-shi, Nara-ken 634, Japan
Tel: (07442) 2-8236   Fax: (07442) 4-6254
Ken and Visakha Kawasaki, Directors

    On September 29, 1996, official Myanmar television reported that the
State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) believes that the National
League for Democracy (NLD) is trying to agitate monks in the following ways:
1)    sending members to monasteries frequently to befriend the monks
2)    sending its members to be ordained as monks, thereby trying to
divide the loyalty of the monks.
It was further announced that laws have recently been passed so as to
prevent the ordination of NLD members.  The  Central Monks' Committee
(Sangha Mahanayaka) was instructed to  contact all levels of  SLORC offices
if any NLD member sought ordination. 

    Buddhist Relief Mission declares that these measures constitute a gross
interference in the  time - honored independent nature of the Buddhist
monastic order, the Sangha, and an outrageous abuse of the rights of Burmese
According to Buddhist Law, which SLORC pretends to be protecting, no
laymen or government official has any authority or jurisdiction to determine
who can be ordained a monk.  That is a matter for the Sangha to decide, the
Sangha in this case being a minimum of five fully ordained monks (upasampada
bhikkhus).  No monk, even a member of the Central Monks Committee (in this
case a SLORC organized body), nor any layman, even from the Department of
Religious Affairs, has the right to exclude any ethnic group, caste,
occupation, or community from ordination.
To be ordained a monk is a great event and a great privilege.  The
candidate should be encouraged to go forward with it.  To receive
ordination, one has but to approach the assembled Sangha in a humble manner,
to salute it, and to request ordination ("to be raised to the position out
of  ompassion"). 
The candidate is asked, "Do you have a disease such as leprosy,
consumption, or epilepsy? Are you a human being? Are you a man? Are you a
free man? Are you without debts? Are you in the royal service? Do you have
your parents' permission? Are you a full twenty years of age?  Are you
complete as to bowl and robes?"  If the answers to these questions are
acceptable, the ordination can proceed.  Political affiliation is not
included in the stumbling blocks (antarayike dhamme) which can prevent
Should any monk object to a certain candidate, he must provide the
Sangha with  a valid reason for his feelings or be reprimanded (and perhaps
even punished) by the Sangha for his bias.  If he has a good reason, his
objection will be taken into consideration by the Sangha.  Such a case will
be decided by the majority of the Sangha involved. 
In the Buddhist Sangha, for more than 2500 years, there has been no
requirement of obedience to a superior.  Although a monk is expected to
display his courtesy and respect to senior monks, ultimately speaking, all
monks are individual ascetics who have not vowed obedience to anyone else
but the Sangha.  Throughout the Vinaya, the monks' rules of discipline, the
Buddha exhorts His disciples to assemble and to decide matters according to
the viewpoint of the majority.  The Sangha has a very systematic and
democratic nature due to the fact that in the Sangha, all members have equal
rights and opportunities to determine and to administer affairs.  Furthermore,
decentralization of power is extremely important. In the process of
determining things, everyone's consent is sought, and the majority vote is
According to Buddhist philosophy and practice, the right to rule
a society or a country is based on the consent of the subjects ruled.  This
is, very clearly, basic democracy. 
Buddhist Relief Mission: 
- deplores this latest  unwarranted and intolerable attempt by the SLORC to 
manipulate and to control the Sangha in Burma.
- condemns the SLORC for violating the integrity of the Buddhist Sangha
and thus damaging the  Buddha Sasana, which has lasted for more than 2500
years for the welfare of the world. 
- demands that the SLORC immediately end its interference in
ordinations, which is clearly  motivated solely by its own unwholesome purposes.
- urges fellow Buddhists and members of other religions around the
world to join us in  condemning the SLORC for this serious abuse of freedom
and of religion.

Please write letters to:

(Retired) General Ne Win
1 Maykha (Ady) Rd.
Rangoon (Yangon)
BURMA (Myanmar)
 General Than Shwe 
Chairman of the SLORC 
Ministry of Defence
Rangoon (Yangon)
BURMA  (Myanmar)

Lt. Gen. Phone Myint, 
Minister for Home and Religious Affairs 
Kaba Aye
Rangoon (Yangon)
BURMA (Myanmar)

Ven. Dr. Walpola Sri Rahula Thera
Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of the Maha Sangha
Paramadhammacetiya Pirivena

The Supreme Patriarch of Thailand
His HolinessVen. Bhaddanta Nanasamvara
Wat Bovoranives Vihara
Banglumpoo, Bangkok 10200
Fax:  66-2-280-0343

His Holiness The Dalai Lama
Thekeheng Choeling 
McLeod Ganj 176219 
Dharamsala, H. P.

His Holiness Pope John Paul II
Apostolic Palace 
00120 Vatican City 
Fax:  39-698-5241

World Council of Churches
150 route de Ferney
P.O. Box 2100
1211 Geneva 2
Fax:  41-22-791-0361

Archbishop of Canterbury
Most Revd. and Rt. Hon. George L. Carey
Lambeth Palace
London, England SE1 7JU


September 30, 1996

Tokyo, Sept. 30 (Jiji Press)-Japan expressed concern Monday over scores of
democracy supporters being detained in Myanmar and urged the country's
ruling junta to release them as quickly as possible, Foreign Ministry
officials said.

Japanese Ambassador to Myanmar Yoichi Yamaguchi made the request to the
ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council, which in turn said it plans
to release the 109 supporters of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi as soon
as they finish questioning them, the officials said.

Japan also asked that Myanmar refrain from arresting any more supporters of
Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, while reiterating the hope that
Myanmar will continue moving toward a more democratic system, they said.
Myanmar's military rulers, hinting at a more flexible approach as
international pressure mounts, told Yamaguchi they will lift the blockade of
traffic around Suu Kyi's residence within a couple of days and also hinted
that they may allow democracy rallies outside her home this weekend,
depending on the circumstances.


October 1, 1996
By Deborah Charles

RANGOON, - The United States on Tuesday denied Burmese charges it had colluded 
with Aung San Suu Kyi's democracy movement, and said it had not threatened the 
military government with reprisals if it acted against her.

U.S. charge d'affaires Marilyn Meyers told reporters she and other U.S.
Embassy officials had nothing to do with a planned three-day congress by Suu
Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

Burma's military government has said the United States urged Suu Kyi to
organise the NLD conference from September 27-29 to coincide with the United
Nations General Assembly and a sanctions bill being discussed in the U.S.

It arrested 559 NLD members or supporters and blocked the road to Suu Kyi's
home to prevent the meeting from taking place.

"We're certainly not giving any instructions or colluding with Suu Kyi,"
Meyers told reporters. "It's a baseless, unfortunate and rather silly charge."

Describing U.S.-Burmese relations as "quite strained", Meyers said they
became even more tense after the government accused her of colluding with
the NLD and trying to intimidate the ruling State Law and Order Restoration
Council (SLORC).

"I think this has continued to strain an already tense relationship," she
said. Kin 
Maung Win, a senior official in Burma's Foreign Ministry, told a monthly news 
conference on Tuesday that Meyers recently warned him any SLORC action 
against Suu Kyi or her party could spark a negative reaction from the United

"She remarked the NLD should be allowed to hold their meeting without
disturbance," he said. "She also intimated that if any action was taken
against the NLD or the holding of the meeting it would have negative

Kin Maung Win said such comments went beyond the norms of regular diplomacy
and were regarded as unwanted interference by the Burmese government.

"I don't think that's a fair way to characterize the meeting," Meyers said.
"I basically wanted to share things with him and tell him the status of
legislation in Washington that could affect our relationship."

The U.S. Congress is expected to pass a Foreign Operations Appropriations
bill which includes an amendment allowing for possible sanctions against Burma.
The amendment, which is supported by the Clinton administration and welcomed
by Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi, urges Burma to improve its human rights record.
It would also allow the president to prohibit U.S. investment in Burma if
Suu Kyi is re-arrested or exiled or if there is large-scale repression
against the opposition.

Asked if the current situation could warrant such sanctions, Meyers would
only say the United States was closely monitoring events in Burma.  


September 27, 1996

Amnesty International is alarmed that once again pro-democracy activists in 
Myanmar are being detained by the military authorities to prevent them from 
attending a political meeting due to start today.

Yet again, the military authorities are showing that they will not tolerate any
dissenting voices in Myanmar,~ Amnesty International said today. ~These people 
have been arrested solely to stop them attending a peaceful meeting -- they
be released immediately.

      Ill-treatment in detention is commonplace in Myanmar. Amnesty
is seeking assurances that all those activists detained are given proper
access to 
their family, lawyers of their choice and medical personnel.


September 30, 1996

Two Democrats from New York, Congressmen Eliot L. Engel and Michael R.
Nulty have become co-sponsors of the House version of the Burma Freedom
and Democracy Act of 1995 (HR.2892) on September 26. Now there are 27
co-sponsors in total for this bill.

Co-sponsors of Burma Freedom and Democracy Act of 1995 
               House Version (HR.2892)

Principle Sponsor: Rep.Dana Rohrabacher (D-CA)

  Rep.Edward Royce (R-CA)           01/25/96
  Rep.Christopher Smith (R-NJ)      01/25/96
  Rep.Bob Clement (D-TN)            03/28/96 
  Rep.Ken Calvert (R-CA)            03/28/96 
  Rep.John W. Olver (D-MA)          03/28/96 
  Rep.Neil Abercrombie (D-HI)       03/28/96 
  Rep.Richard H. Baker (R-LA)       03/28/96 
  Rep.William O. Lipinski (D-IL)    03/28/96 
  Rep.John Edward Porter (R-IL)     04/30/96 
  Rep.Ronald V. Dellums (D-CA)      04/30/96 
  Rep.Sam Farr (D-CA)               06/18/96
  Rep.Richard "Doc" Hastings (R-WA) 06/18/96 
  Rep.Barney Frank (D-MA)           06/18/96
  Rep.Tom Lantos (D-CA)             06/18/96
  Rep.Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR)       06/20/96 
  Rep.Frank Pallone (D-NJ)          07/10/96
  Rep.Marty Meehan (D-MA)           07/16/96
  Rep.Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)           07/18/96
  Rep.Lane Evans (D-IL)             07/18/96
  Rep.Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY)    07/26/96
  Rep.Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL)      07/26/96
  Rep.Elizabeth Furse (D-OR)        07/26/96
  Rep.Sidney R. Yates (D-IL)        07/30/96
  Rep.Richard J. Durbin (D-IL)      09/05/96
  Rep.John Moakley (D-MA)           09/05/96
  Rep.Michael R. McNulty (D-NY)     09/26/96
  Rep.Eliot L. Engel (D-NY)         09/26/96


October 1, 1996

RANGOON, Oct 1 (Reuter) - Burma's military government said on Tuesday former
opium warlord Khun Sa was still under official supervision and was not
involved in any business dealings inside the country.

"He is now under the supervision of our law enforcement officers," senior
Defence Ministry official, Colonel Kyaw Thein, told a monthly news conference.
Members of Khun Sa's former Mong Tai Army (MTA) had said he was doing
business out of a luxury lakeside villa in the capital, Rangoon.

"He is not doing any sort of business in Yangon (Rangoon) or elsewhere
inside our country," Kyaw Thein said.
He did not confirm whether Khun Sa, who surrendered to government troops
early this year, was living in the capital.

Khun Sa, 62, a half Shan-half Chinese former commander of the 20,000-strong
MTA had claimed he was fighting for the Shan state's independence from the
central government.

But international drug agencies accused him of using the MTA as a personal
guerrilla force to protect his heroin business in the Golden Triangle, which
borders Burma, Laos and Thailand.

The Triangle is one of the world's top heroin producing areas. The U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administraton estimates 70 percent of heroin supplied to the
international market comes from the region.

Khun Sa is wanted by the United States after an American court indicted him
in 1989 on various charges of heroin trafficking into the country.

Washington demanded that Burma hand him over to face trial in the U.S. and
offered a $2 million reward for his head.
But Burma's ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council rejected the
American request and said Rangoon would deal with him under Burmese law.  


October 1, 1996
Supamart Kasem

A member of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army responsible for a string of
robberies along the border was killed yesterday while trying to throw a
grenade at police.

Phayali, 35, died when his M67 grenade exploded as he was about to hurt it
at police patrolling the border area in Tha Song Yang.

The incident took place during a brief exchange of gunfire between a group
of DKBA soldiers and the Border Patrol Police.

The DKBA soldiers subsequently retreated across the border.

The raiders, who were about to rob villagers at Ban Mae Tan, were spotted by
a team of BPP from the 344th unit, and the two groups exchanged fire for
about 10 minutes.

Another group of renegade Karens also fired rifles and M79 grenades from the
Burmese side at the BPP unit. (BP)


September 30, 1996

RANGOON - Over 400 members of a rebel Shan group active in northeastern
Burma have surrendered to military authorities, the official press reported
yesterday, amid moves among the ethnic group to reach a political agreement
with the ruling junta.

The English-language New Light of Myanmar said the members of the 275th
brigade of the Shan State National Army surrendered on Friday with 155
assorted arms.

The brigade's leaders "admitted their past misdeeds" and promised to take
part in further nation-building efforts with the government.

The surrender followed recent reports that the SSNA and another Shan rebel
group had joined forces with the Shan State Army, which was one of the first
of 15 ethnic-based armed groups to strike a ceasefire deal with the


September 29, 1996

Treating people as commodities is nothing new, but tour operators in Mae
Hong Song province are up in arms over the importation of long-necked Karen
villagers into Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai as tourist attractions, claiming
the move is destroying their industry. MANAS KANTHATA investigates.

TOUR operators in Mae Hong Son province are crying foul, accusing
competitors in neighbouring provinces of destroying their business.

They say the tourism trade is at a low ebb because tourists who previously
visited the province to see the famed long-necked Karen people, known as
Phadung, are not going instead to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces, where
illegal immigrants from the same ethnic group are the rival attraction.

Mae Hong Son is well-known to both local and foreign tourists for its
variety of local cultures, including the long-necked villagers in Bann Nai
Soi and Bann Nam Phiang Din, who wear multiple bands of rings around their

The padung have long been one the "Must-sees" for visitors to Mae Hong Son
and a major source of the province's income. But they are being challenged
by their own folk, who have slipped into the country from Burma's Shan and
Kayah states and are taking shelter in the two neighbouring provinces.

The operators claim tour agents have canceled trips to the two villages and
turned to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai because of the convenience of
transportation. With their livelihoods at steak, the operators have called
on immigration authorities to take action before their business hits rock

Tulae, a leader of the Karen in Bann Nai Soi, said the village had been
badly hit. "We used to earn hundreds of baht a day, but now we make less
than Bt 20," she said.

However, she admitted that none of her villagers had left to join those in
Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai and said that she had no idea where that Phadung
in the two provinces came from.

Thawathai Nathippakorn, president of Mae Hong Son's tourism industry
association, said several tour companies had canceled their regular trips to
the Karen villages. "Those tour agents come up with the same reason, that
they will take the tourists to Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai instead because it
is more convenient for travel and the benefits are greater," he said.

Pol Cap Paiton Saraklue, chief of the Mae Hong Son immigration checkpoint,
said there was an attempt to bring in Karen from Burma fir a cultural show
in Chiang Mai during the Southeast Asian Games last year. But this failed
because Tai immigration officials did not cooperate.

"Bt100,000 was offered to certain people in Burma to pave the way for
smuggling them in. But they asked for Bt500,000 so the attempt failed," he said.

Mana, 42, one the Karen villagers, said the investors contacted certain
people in Burma and offered them a large amount of cash in exchange for her
neighbours. "They left Burma on July 15 and traveled via Khun Yuam to Chiang
Mai. The villagers were told to remove the neck rings to avoid attention
form the authorities," she said.

According to immigration officials in Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son, about 30
villages were smuggled in from Burma, via Khun Yuam and Mae Chaeng, to Bann
Mae Jakhue in Chiang Rai and Mae Ai in Chaing Mai. A sightseeing tour was
available at a cost of Bt 1,00 person, but the tourists were prohibited from
taking photos for fear they would fall into the hands of immigration
authorities, they said.

Immigration officials said they were seeking the cooperation of the Chaing
Rai governor in investigating the matter.

Mae Hong Son Governor Somjen Wiriyadamrong said had ordered official to
check the reports and take legal action against anyone found to be involved.

"I will surely take action against any businessmen who smuggle in Karen
villagers, who are our province's trademark, to benefit themselves. I will
ask the authorities to send the illegal immigrants back to Burma," he said.

Mana Chobtham, of the Tourism Authority of Thailand's northern region, said
the TAT did not support businesses involved in illegal immigration and urged
the police to take action. He said tourism operators should promote the
cultures of the various people in Chaing Mai and Chaing Rai provinces,
rather than only the long-necked villagers.

"They should not make money from those villagers because they are illegal
aliens. It's against the law. There is a lot more to promote and sell to
tourists who want to see something of the natural beauty of the areas," he
said. Nirandorn Amphansiri, general manager of Imperial Thara Hotel in Mae
Hong Son, said tourism operators are over-reacting to the new competition
and said he did not think the impact will be  long-lasting. "As far as I
know, the tourists come here not just because they want to see those villagers.

"There are other exotic places they want to visit. Those villagers are just
one element of business here," he said.

A labour official in Chaing Mai said last week the businessmen who brought
in the long-necked Karen have ingeniously made use of a recent Cabinet
resolution that permits the temporary employment of illegal immigrants in 43
provinces to register those tribes people as their workers.

Permission was already given for the immigrants' temporary stay in Thailand,
said the official, who asked not to be named. (TN)


September 24, 1996
by Tom Plate

Unocal: The oil company, not human rights protestors, will do more for
ordinary Burmese.

Viewed solely from a public-relations standpoint, Unocal's pipeline project
in repressive Burma is about as close to one gigantic image disaster as any
$1.2-billion investment can get for an American oil company that cares about
what people think of it.  On today's worldwide human rights radar screen,
the military junta in Burma has attained a special place in Western human
rights contempt.  Thus Unocal, with headquarters in Los Angeles, is now
hearing it from liberal boo-birds and human-righters from all over.

It has even been sued in U.S. court for various alleged transgressions
against international human rights treaties.  If it weren't for the enormous
stakes involved, Unocal President John F. Imle Jr. might be well tempted to
pull the plug on its investment in Burma, official called Myanmar, as have
other PR-burned Western companies, including Heineken, Carlsberg and Levi
Strauss, on theirs.  Though Unocal shares the project with the French giant
Total, the local Myanma Oil & Gas Enterprise and PTT Exploration and
Production of Thailand, the quarrel right now is solely with Unocal.  And if
all the charges against it--bedding down with a murderous regime,
carelessness with the environment, labor abuses and forced
relocations--sound familiar, that's because they're strikingly similar to
the charges that were laid against Shell Oil's controversial project in
Nigeria.  But Unocal appears to have learned many lessons from that ugly
venture, which culminated in the death of that African country's leading
human rights activist.  And any fair examination of the list of particulars
against shellshocked Unocal reveals too many of the facts to be in
considerable dispute for almost any of them to be taken for granted.
Indeed, from Unocal's perspective, an offer to finance an impartial
fact-finding panel might take the exercise of corporate due diligence to new
and welcome heights, even if this exceptionally nasty Burmese regime,
absurdly named the State Law and Order Restoration Council, were to veto the
whole idea.

Unocal has exercised a good-faith effort to see that workers are compensated
in fact as well as intent.  Additionally, the very presence of American
companies grounded in American traditions, pressured by the human rights
expectations of the U.S. public and monitored by the western media, probably
works as a speed bump to slow down SLORC.  But we can't hold American
companies involved in countries with rough-cut governments responsible for
things they can't control.  Why blame Unocal for all that is wrong in Burma?
The oil giant, after all, didn't put these brutes in power.

The American yearning for virtue in all things is matched only by our
penchant for inconsistency in many things.  For instance, even though
Vietnam remains a repressive communist state, U.S. policy now promotes
diplomatic exchanges and U.S. business investment there.  China continues to
fail one Western human rights test after another but we emphasize the
hoped-for seductiveness of constructive engagement rather than the cold
tonic of diplomatic and economic isolation.

Moreover, isolation doesn't always do the trick: Eventually it did dislodge
the white racists in South Africa, but Fidel Castro continues to puff along
in Cuba.  Thus, however emotionally unsatisfying, hardheaded pragmatism is
necessary in a world that almost unanimously rejects the U.S. moralizing
that it views as a scarcely veiled exercise in cultural business with Burma
and want the U.S. to spurn any economic-boycott grandstanding.  

But because Burma leads the evil-empire league at the moment, Unocal becomes
the cause celebre of the year in the U.S.  Too bad.  In reality, the
company's complicated project will bring natural gas to Thailand from
offshore Burma, thus providing a clean source of energy to a region
suffering, as is almost all of Asia, from pervasive pollution.  

Don't get me wrong: The list time I shed tears for an oil company, I rooted
for the Notre Dame football team.  And if Unocal can ride out the current
storm of protest and complete the project as planned by 1998, it will make a
fortune for the company's coffers and shareholders.  But note this, friends,
SLORC critics and human rights countrymen: That is neither illegal nor
immoral and in important respects is highly desirable.  Third World
development will not happen unless outside capital finds the risk profitable.  

For Americans, the overriding moral question is what the Unocal project
means for the oppressed people of Burma, who would appear to have no way out
of their giant national prison.  It's hard to believe that, on the whole,
Western investment hurts the people there more than it helps.  And it's
ridiculous to take the view that Western firms necessarily exploit
unemployed people simply by giving them jobs, and, in Unocal's case, by
providing medical care and other benefits.  In Burma as in many other Asian
societies, people work or they die; there is no welfare net to support them.  

Unocal so far has had more than 1,000 Burmese on its pipeline payroll.  If
human rights organizations get their wish and Western investment continues
to run away, the Burmese people could wind up in far worse shape.
Relatively speaking, foreign investment and economic development in Burma
has been very limited.  There needs to be more of it, not less.  A
guilt-ridden exit by the West could well mean no exit, at least in the
foreseeable future, for the people of Burma.


September 26, 1996 (abridged)

This is from the SLORC website:
(note the Restricted Areas list at the bottom (all of chin & kayah state!)

V I S I T     M Y A N M A R     1 9 9 6
Notification Specifying Tourist Sights in
Myanmar for International Tourists and Foreign Visitors
(as of 10 April 1996)


(1) Authorized Travels and Tours Companies arranging package Tours to 
Mogoke must contact and arrange through the Union of Myanmar Economic 
Holdings Ltd:
(2) Myanmar Travels and Tours of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism can 
make its own arrangements for its package Tours to Mogoke.
(3) Tours to Hpakant is not allowed.
(4) International tourists and foreign visitors are not allowed to tour
round in 
any areas of Chin State and Kayah State.
http://FreeBurma.org is the Burma information starting point.
http://sunsite.unc.edu/freeburma/whatsnew.html  <--See what's new
http://sunsite.unc.edu/burma-bin/WebX  <--post your own info on the website

[Further information is available on specific locations on the SLORC website]